​Electoral Commission seeks advice on overhauling 30-year-old systems

The Australian Electoral Commission has turned to the market for help with its Election Systems Modernisation Program.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) wants to overhaul its election systems, but it doesn't exactly know how such overhaul will look, or what it will comprise of.

The AEC published a request for information (RFI) this week, seeking specifically "innovative" ideas and approaches to designing and delivering an Election Systems Modernisation Program, asking the market for guidance on everything from procurement constraints to the end result.

The core software platforms currently in place at the AEC have been in use for almost 30 years, the RFI revealed, with the AEC's systems environment consisting of approximately 93 systems and supporting sub-systems.

The 90-plus systems deliver services to citizens and political parties, support the work of the AEC, and provide integration and interface services, the AEC explained.

"The technology platforms that support these ICT systems, while old, are still capable of processing large volumes of data and are reliable for the short term," it clarified.

"These systems and associated sub-systems have been developed incrementally over time to deliver new business requirements and improve connection between business systems and databases. Most of these systems and sub-systems are bespoke in nature as no commercial off the shelf products were available at the time to meet legislative requirements."

While the AEC doesn't know what the digital transformation will comprise of, its vision is to create an Integrated Roll and Election Management System (IREMS). The new IREMS will replace the AEC legacy systems, it said.

High on the electoral commission's agenda is the delivery of core infrastructure that can "support an increased scale and scope of services over time".

The new system must deliver more automated and cost effective delivery of electoral events and related functions, its list of criteria stipulates.

Highlighting the current political and cyber climate, the AEC said the final solution needs be underpinned by "robust cybersecurity safeguards and include protections for current and future threats".

"Since the 2016 federal election, events overseas have highlighted the importance of maintaining the integrity of electoral ICT systems and protecting them against unauthorised interference," the AEC wrote. "Events within Australia have demonstrated that the risk of cyber attack is increasing and even unsuccessful cyber attacks can impact on the public's perception of the integrity of the business process."

Submissions close November 19, 2018, and the AEC expects to move to tender for a specific solution following consultation.


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